Dying To Live Forever returns to Amazon Kindle

wpid-wp-1439815498058.jpgMy book Dying to Live Forever has returned to Amazon Kindle and is on sale this weekend until July 4th, 2016.

Celebrity scientist and inventor Rik van der Gelder finds his lust for living waning after having lived two full lifetimes, courtesy of the ‘fountain of youth’ rejuvenation technology he helped to introduce. Bored nearly to death, he escapes alone in his starship, desperately searching for some relief from the never ending job of living. But a deadly attack and crash landing on an isolated and dangerous planet force him into a desperate struggle for his life.

Surviving the bizarre, deadly terrain and venomous creatures won’t be easy. Assaulted at every turn, Rik encounters an alien artifact that leads him down a rabbit hole of discovery and intrigue. Standing together with artificial intelligences and the insect-like race that built them against a common enemy could result in a deadly battle and the end of Rik. Or maybe it’s just the beginning…

The Declaration of American Independence

The real glory of the declaration of independence has been our nation’s epic struggle throughout history to close the gap between the ideals of this remarkable document and the sometimes painful realities of American life. The Declaration symbolizes the birth of our nation, of course, but also of the constant struggle to achieve its ideals.
flagThose words from  a famous, educated, wealthy, articulate, and free black American citizen – Morgan Freeman – while standing in Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the occasion of the celebration of Independence Day. They explain why slavery, sexism, and other inequities are to be found in American society and in its history, in seeming opposition to our idealistic Declaration of Independence.
 
Our story as a nation continues. Happy Independence Day.

Evolution of Thought

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Our brothers and sisters in Canada are moved to make a public statement of support and transformation. We are in desperate need of something like this in the USA.
We’ve moved from a values-driven, caring, compassionate society to one that is divided. This division can be traced back at least to political machinations begun in the 1960s that created a schism in our country where the very values that should bind us all are treated with disdain and are mocked – not by a small group of misguided and warped bigots in secret, but in public and with frequent agreement and affirmation. The very idea that “political correctness” could be mocked by people who claim as their heritage a Christian set of values is patently ludicrous, yet we see this as commonplace in daily conversations.
 
How did this happen? It’s very clear how it was done. It began as a deliberate manipulation of the thoughts and minds of good, solid people to create in them a distrust and abhorrence of their neighbors and fellow countrymen – those upon whom we all inter-depend. Many have been led, slowly, gradually, without seeming to be led, toward a set of beliefs that would never have been thinkable when the process was begun years ago, but has become acceptable through this incremental evolution.
Conservatives were well aware of this shift and its bad effects even in the early years. In a 1994 interview, by then retired Senator Barry Goldwater said, “When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
In response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell‘s opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, “Every good Christian should be concerned”, Goldwater retorted: “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”
I find myself appalled and dismayed at the shocking lack of compassion and trust and respect we see routinely displayed in our media’s coverage of the political system, everyday interactions between everyday people, and in the entertainment we all consume. We have sunk to new lows with each passing decade of my life, and we seem destined to continue to do so, slowly abolishing in our society the very values that made this country what it was and is no longer.
 
Our Founding Fathers would be instantly disgusted if they were to appear here and now and witness what we have done with their imperfect, and yet powerful and promising beginning. I wish I could somehow show the perspective I have been gradually acquiring to everyone. I believe it would show the stark, bitter contrast between what we all think we want and what many of us are working toward because of ideations perverted for short-term political gain that have gradually taken on a life of their own and as such may well destroy our society.

Space Will Save Us

Future EarthIt’s not about wanting to go individually. It’s about running out of ideas about how to expand the human race, running out of energy and resources, and generally needing a new frontier to expand into. We’re stagnating as a civilization.

Space is full of things we need both for up there and down here: energy, metals, water, air, organics, heat, cold, vacuum, zero-G. We can bring a lot of new wealth to us down here and we do a lot up there that isn’t easy here. But it’s more important than resources.

We need a place for the wild wild west to play out over and over. We need to try new ideas in government and society. Down here it’s too easy for these experiments to be swamped by external influences before anything useful is learned. People are too “comfortable” in the sense of “comfort zones”. We need to shove a bunch of people into a new pool and make them swim or die, honestly. It’s what we’re FOR as a species, and it’s what we’re good at. We’re wasting our intrinsic talents down here and we’re wasting away because of it.

Think about this. The population is thousand times or a million times what it was in the time of the original discoverers of most of our basic understanding of government, society, the physical world, human discourse, law, mathematics, and many other subjects. We have, therefore, thousands or millions of geniuses to those eras’ one. Why aren’t we making fundamental progress on such things?

We’re limited by our comfort zones. Capitalism, while powerful and definitely most of the reason we’re all here and alive and eating and housed today, isn’t the last word in solutions to the problems it was evolved to solve. Nor is democracy. Nor socialism, nor Christianity, nor Buddhism, nor Islam, nor American way of doing things, nor are lots of things.

Nobody is trying anymore. Because the cost of trying is just way too high. Natural selection, natural experimentation, evolution – they’ve all stopped in the world of ideas. That is, until there is a crisis or a war or a disaster. Then we might dabble a bit to fix what we think might have been the cause or recover from the devastation. But we don’t have to fix things most of the time.

The Wonky Allotment

We’re all a little like this a little of the time. Chiller keeps plugging along, despite the setbacks, slowly, surely. I feel a bit like this sometimes – albeit without the seriousness of her setbacks to really _know_ what it feels like.

Maybe re-emergence is possible. It was for someone far more seriously ill than I’ve ever been. Thanks, Chiller.

Chiller

An audio version of this piece is available here.

A few years ago I took an allotment. It was always a wildly ambitious –  perhaps even foolish – thing to do, given my health, but if there’s one thing I have learned with MECFS, it’s that almost anything can be achieved if you are left alone to peck at it. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there. A week off. A month off, peck peck peck, and provided there is no deadline, you will eventually get any job done.  Accordingly, I had soon put up a polytunnel and bit by bit the beds were conquered and dug and weeded.  Things were planted, and they grew.

My site is not a council site and as such has a gloriously laissez-faire approach to plot management. I know a couple of plots where the owner turns up one day a year, digs the whole…

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A Positive Vision of the Future

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“Hope over despair” indeed.

It’s exhausting to see people I respect wasting their time arguing about whether global warming is caused by mankind, or even whether global warming is real. Or to hear them arguing about which religion has a better set of values for people to live by or which one is the one their country is based upon.

The fact is that if we want to survive and live happily and successfully in the long run we must stop such idiotic bickering and make some changes. Our population growth and our way of feeding, housing, energizing, and transporting that population is simply unsustainable in the long run – regardless of whether population stays the same or grows or even shrinks a little. We’re absolutely doomed if we don’t change our ways of living.

But I said this was a positive vision. Ahem.

The positive outlook for humanity is clear. We must reduce the impact on our environment made by the processes of human life even while we enhance the quality of that life. We’re definitely making progress on both fronts.

Can we avoid Armageddon? Of course we can. Biblical and other religious and doomsayers’ predictions have a consistent habit of proving to be completely wrong.

But we must change our ways. The article linked from the photo above has a lot of hope to offer for ways we can and will change.

Publishing by Unpublishing

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The home-made cover for my first book.

I’ve decided to submit my book first book, Dying to Live Forever, to a “real” publisher. My marketing and sales skills and inclination to spend time doing those things are virtually nil. I want to have someone else who likes and has talents for these things actually work on them for me. And book publishers – they’re pretty good at these sorts of things, yano? At least I hope so.

My book will reappear when/if some publisher decides to become my publisher. If not, maybe I’ll look at other options. In the meantime, which is, by the way, many months in the slow world of traditional publishing, my book will be unavailable.

Fortunately for everyone, the new version of the story will be much improved. I’ve made another pass through it and it’s substantially better already – with having even been seen by a professional editor whose job it is to make books better (or suck less).

My second and third books are still in the pipeline, and this very morning I (re)started my work on the first of the ANGEL series of stories, going through it with a fine toothed comb looking for badness, building better character development into the story, finishing up scenes, etc.

Please, if you love me, or if you love science fiction by geeks and for geeks, stay tuned…

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

There definitely are absolute definitions of good and evil and most systems of belief are far from absolute about which they stand for. Look at the Spanish Inquisition for one example. Or Japanese internment camps. Or the American military involvement in Iraq beginning in the early years of this century. People have often been led by evil or wrong thinking men to do horrifying things in the name of religion or their country.

The tool used in each case is a population of unthinking sheep who will not think for themselves and who blindly follow someone who is charismatic and wrong. Tragedy inevitably results.

Don't be a sheep.

Don’t be a sheep.

War is cowardly

When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who's going to die. You don't know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken. How many lives shattered. How much blood will spill until everybody does what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning: sit down and talk. Listen to me. Listen. I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It's just a fancy word for changing your mind.
From an unlikely source, this wisdom for all ages of humanity. War is stupid, wrong, and cowardly. War covers up for the failures of our world’s leaders and those citizens who permit them to lead. War is an abomination created by humans because we’re human. War is a reflection of our race’s most serious flaw.

We, the Human Race, must mature, to outgrow our propensity for war.

Reflections on a life well lived

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He was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He taught me to solder, to ride a bike, what to shout when a can of tomatoes falls on a bare toe, and how to be an actual man. A man who cares and believes in you, who builds you up by showing you how men should live by living that way himself.

My father was funny and smart. He had a great deep bass voice that could make anyone feel welcome or comfort them in difficult times. He was endlessly pragmatic, could do all of Heinlein’s list of things a competent man should be able to do, and he was kind. He was not sentimental, but he was careful in the sense of being full of caring.

My dad lived nearly 92 years, surviving the Great Depression, marriage to my wonderful mother, World War II, smart assed teenagers, and retirement for thirty years. He and my mom traveled around the country, marveling at autumn colors and streams and mountains for years until she began to lose herself into Dr. Alzheimer’s little nightmare.

With a great deal of help from my sister, Dad cared for mom until she died six years ago. When she passed away he was 85. Caring for her nearly killed him too, I think, but he finished the job like he did everything: it needed doing and he simply did it.

A few years ago Dad met a delightful lady named Betty and they became very close friends, doing everything together. She passed away in July, and I think Dad simply realized he was ready to get off the ride.

My dad died last week at nearly the age of 92. He’d been in excellent health until Betty died, and then it all changed. The last few months have been hard for all of us and I think they were for him too.

But like he did everything, it had to be done, and he just did it.

We’ll miss you Dad. I’m proud of you. I’ll try to be as good a man as you showed me how to be.